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in the Civil War
|Fifty-sixth Infantry. Cols., Charles E. Griswold, Stephen M. Weld,
Jr.; Lieut. -Cols., Stephen M. Weld, Jr., Horatio D. Jarves; Majs., Horatio D. Jarves,
Wallace A. Putnam, Z. Boylston Adams. This was known as the "1st veteran volunteer
infantry." The members of this and the other three veteran regiments must already
have served for at least nine months in some other organization. The 56th, the first of
the four veteran regiments, was organized at Readville, and mustered into service during
Dec, 1863, and Jan. and Feb., 1864, for three years. Its total enrolment was 74 officers
and 1,119 men. It lost in action 6 officers, 99 enlisted men; 4 missing; 52 died by
accident or disease; 48 died as prisoners. It left for Annapolis, Md., March 20, 1864, and
was attached to Carruth's brigade, Stevenson's division, 9th corps. It left camp at
Annapolis on April 23, when the corps embarked on its spring campaign, and on the 6th of
May it went into action at the Wilderness, near the junction of the Brock and Plank roads.
During the short time it was engaged, it lost heavily, Col. Griswold being killed, and the
total casualties amounting to 77. Moving to the left with its corps in support of Gen.
Hancock, it was again heavily engaged at Spottsylvania Court House, losing 52 in killed,
wounded and missing. It again shared in the assaults on the 18th, when it lost 5 killed
and 40 wounded. With a portion of the corps, it crossed the North Anna river on the 24th,
and another severe engagement followed at Oxford. In this action the regiment lost 64 in
killed, wounded and prisoners. It was again engaged with its corps at Bethesda Church and
Cold Harbor, after which it crossed the James river and went into position before
Petersburg, taking an active part in the assault on June 17, capturing over 50 prisoners,
but losing heavily itself. It shared in the general siege work until the end of July and
formed a part of the division chosen to lead the advance in the action at the Crater.
Though already fearfully reduced in numbers, it lost in this fight 10 killed, 25 wounded
and 22 prisoners. After serving in the trenches for two weeks longer, it took part in the
expedition against the Weldon railroad, after which, on account of the depletion through
losses of the 1st division, it was discontinued, and the 56th became a part of the 2nd
brigade, 2nd division, 9th corps, taking part with it in the battle of Peebles' farm. The
regiment spent the winter in garrison at Fort Alexander Hays and on the resumption of the
spring campaign it joined in the assault on the Confederate works on the Jerusalem plank
road. Afterward, assisted only by the 5th Mass. battery, it tenaciously held the key
position of the captured works throughout the day. On the fall of Petersburg, it moved to
Burkesville and after Lee's surrender, to Alexandria, where it was stationed until
mustered out of service on July 12, when it returned to Massachusetts. The men were paid
and discharged at Readville, July 22, 1865.
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing
Company, 1908 - Volume 1